ProRail, Arriva and Stadler have started a week-long trial of automatic train operation on the Groningen–Zuidhorn line in the north of the Netherlands, with a modified GTW DMU successfully undertaking a first run on the evening of March 15. Operating in Grade of Automation 2, with a driver in attendance, the test train made automated stops at Groningen, Hoogkerk and Zuidhorn. The infrastructure manager reports that the initial tests were very successful. With ridership on the Dutch network projected to increase by at least 45% by 2030, and freight volumes also rising, ProRail is looking for cost-effective ways to make better use of its existing infrastructure, which it had previously warned was 'reaching the limits of maximum capacity'. As well as implementing ERTMS, ATO is expected to be one of the important innovations to provide more capacity without the costly construction of new tracks. ProRail anticipates that ATO will allow trains to operate at shorter headways and stop more precisely, supported by traffic management to co-ordinate the movement of trains. The acceleration, speed and braking of each train could thus be optimised to save energy. While the current programme is limited to GoA 2, future tests will look at driverless operation using GoA 3 and GoA 4. In terms of punctuality, ProRail said 95% of trains currently arrive at Groningen within 140 sec of their booked time, but with ATO the margin could be improved to 55 sec.